Once you hit retirement, you might think that you’ve finally made it. Your job is over and it’s time to glide through the rest of your golden years. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for many people. Financial security in your retirement years doesn’t happen automatically. It takes careful planning and strategizing with your money to make sure it grows sufficiently to support you in your post-employment years. And right now, about two thirds of Americans don’t have nearly enough money to retire on.
Strategies for Successful Retirement
When it comes to saving for retirement, it’s critical that you start planning—and the earlier, the better. If you’re not sure what to do to start planning for retirement, don’t be afraid! The best place to start is right here, right now. Here are strategies to set yourself up for financial success and create the retirement you want.
Tip 1: Set Retirement Goals
When you think about retirement, what do you dream about doing? Are you planning on traveling with your partner? Or maybe you want to downsize your home and move somewhere warmer so you can be outside every day?
Whatever your retirement goals are, create a clear vision of what you want to do and what your lifestyle will be so you can understand how much money you need to save. If you don’t have goals, it’s like wandering a road with no idea of where you want to go. But setting measurable saving benchmarks can help keep you on track. Your retirement goals may not be as far out of reach as you think!
Tip 2: Save a Percentage of Your Current Income
Does your employer have a 401(k) or Roth IRA plan where you can invest a percentage of your paycheck? If you aren’t sure how much to invest, connecting with a financial advisor can help you get a plan in place to ensure you’re ready for retirement.
An advisor will consider things like your age, the number of years you plan to keep working, and your current living allowances and expected expenses. These factors all play into how much you should have saved up before you retire from your career. Planning for retirement takes calculated cash flow maintenance, effective portfolio maintenance, and social security monitoring.
Many people see saving as restrictive. However, saving consistent amounts each month can actually free you up financially. As you set aside a percentage of your income, you can also allot some funds to spend on personal wants. When you go to buy something, you’ll no longer have to wonder if you can afford it, because you’ve already set aside your necessary savings. 401(k)s and other retirement vehicles are especially nice because they take the money from your paycheck before it ever hits your bank account. You don’t miss money that you don’t see!
Tip 3: Pay Down Debt as Early as Possible
Set yourself free from debt in order to have a successful retirement. Research shows that student debt drastically reduces your early-career retirement savings. Paying off debt is a worthy goal by itself, but it will also affect your long-term financial freedom. Once you’re in retirement, your budget will likely be based on a set amount each month, and you don’t want a mortgage or other debt eating away into your limited income. If you pay off debt early, you’re not only saving interest–you can also be investing the money that would have gone toward your loans. It’s a winning strategy that compounds its own benefits!
Tip 4: Always Think Long-Term
The biggest enemies to your savings account are anxiety, fear, and impulsiveness! When you panic or make rushed purchasing decisions like pulling your money out of investments or making rash movements when the stock market dips, you lose the benefits of your planned investments.
The best retirement plans need to include long-term insurance options, tax efficiency, and lots of patience. There are no shortcuts in wealth building. Think of retirement planning like a marathon rather than a sprint.
Tip 5: Get Professional Financial and Investment Help
When it comes to planning for your future, “do-it-yourself” isn’t the best course of action. Connecting with professionals will allow you to ask all the questions you have. A professional planner can help you understand how to save for retirement, how retirement will affect your taxes, and what kinds of investments can build your wealth. Together, you and your financial advisor can create a plan that is focused on your goals.
Your retirement goals are too important to try and figure it all out on your own. An investment professional will help you retire how and when you want to without having to sacrifice too much in the near future.
How to Retire on Top
Once you’ve mastered the basics, what can you do to make sure you retire like the pros? For those who are ready to go the extra mile, here are some ways you can prepare to retire on top.
- Shift your focus from stockpiling money to growing your money. Investing for retirement means you get to actively play a role in adjusting your funds to increase how and where you want.
- Start a side hustle that lets you keep earning from anywhere. Some work like freelance consulting, blogging, graphic design, or anything else that interests you can make a big difference for you financially.
- Don’t feel rushed to retire too early or pressured to stay longer than you want. Your unique situation should be handled to fit your lifestyle best.
- Your life will change drastically when you retire. It can feel boring or lonely for those who aren’t adequately prepared. Prepare yourself by joining groups or picking up hobbies that will fill your time as you step away from your career.
- Downsize your life to meet your needs as you approach retirement. If your job required you to have a specific wardrobe or materials, start slimming down these items early to ease your transition.
- Talk with your partner or friends for support and guidance through the transition. Major lifestyle shifts can be overwhelming, but extra encouragement from those in your life will make it easier.
- Don’t compare your retirement plan to others. Everyone has different goals! A budget for moving into a travel trailer and exploring the United States will look differently from someone who wants to move into a cottage on the beach. Ideal locations and lifestyles are different for everyone, so try not to let your dream turn into someone else’s!
Where to Start
The first thing you need to do is connect with a professional financial planner and start mapping your route to retirement. Retirement strategies vary from person to person based on their goals and their income level, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy you can implement to get to your dream life. A successful financial future starts with a professional plan!